Mayerfield addresses the history and current state of the International Criminal Court and its tribunals. According to Mayerfield, the court was established to prosecute human rights abuses in the world. This was indeed the common agreement between the members who have ratified the court’s establishment. Human rights cases are forwarded to the International Court for two major reasons. The first is to provide the accused with safer locations environments. This arises from the fear that having hearings in the affected countries could lead to the accused being assassinated even before judgments are heard. This could also happen when the accused participated in the human rights abuses in two different sovereign states, which makes the tribunals held in the Hague or other countries as neutral grounds. The second reason is for the testifiers to have a better environment to provide the information needed in respective cases. This is sometimes made for the very reasons of safety and neutral grounds.
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Despite the large support that International Court has received from world countries, the United States has completely failed to provide its support. According to Mayerfield, lack of US support is an unfortunate situation for the court, the reason being that US support means a lot in international organizations such as this one. The United States fails to support the court because it prefers a decentralized system of running human rights issues in the world. This means having individual countries and regions deal with human rights issues in their jurisdiction other than having to go to the international level. The United States refers to letting its people be subject to the rulings of international court as tantamount to surrendering matters about national security to another country or institution. This is among the chief reasons that the country is not ready to ratify the International Criminal Court charter. However, countries that have ratified the system see the centralized system as the best way to deal with human rights abuses in the world.
Rather than have an independent United Nations institution dealing with human rights abuses, Mayerfield reports that the United States prefers to have such issues being addressed at the Security Council, which is where it can veto rulings against its stand. But member countries have not even considered that option. This state of affairs means it will take longer for any decisions regarding accommodating United States concerns to be reached. There is little hope that member countries would ever bend rules, nor can the United States embark on supporting the court without conditions. Despite its failure to ratify the international court, Mayerfield has correctly asserted that the country has been at the forefront of pushing for improvement in respect for human rights in the world. The country is only against subjecting itself to rulings made in some other country by foreign judges. Owing to the recent involvement in an international crisis that has destroyed the country’s image, fears of getting unfavorable hearings are rife and somehow justified, meaning that the country will hardly accept ratifying the ICC charter, at least in the short term.
In the article, Mayerfield has embarked on explaining the positives and negatives of having the International Criminal Court. He observes that the positives of the international court in meeting the human rights needs greatly overweight the negatives claimed by the United States. For instance, concerns that leaders or citizens of sovereign states would be tried by an international court are well addressed in ICC charters to the full understanding of member states. In addition, Mayerfield considers the fact that most countries in the world have ratified the charter establishing the court as evidence it the system’s efficiency. It is in this consideration that he embarks on urging that the United States needs to change its stand regarding ratifying the charter and supporting the court in its efforts to prosecute human rights abuses in the world.
Mayerfield warns that failure to embark on supporting the court would lead to the continued distrust of the United States by other countries worldwide. Indeed, the United States’ image is increasingly being tarnished by the involvement in some controversial military operations. It is therefore being concluded that the country’s failure to support the court arises from the fear that its soldiers and leaders could be dragged to some tribunals. To the US, this would be a humiliating moment few of its leaders would tolerate. Mayerfield provides and advice that for the US to regain international trust, it should embark on supporting the court by all means. This shall help the international community see America’s commitment to human rights issues in the world. In presenting his ideas, Mayerfield has borrowed from a wide range of sources, ranging from John Lock to modern thinkers. She has successfully provided different viewpoints of the issue to a satisfactory level. Providing a wider scope covering the period before the Second World War, present and the future of human rights in the international arena leaves readers well aware of this important issue.
Mayerfeld, Jamie. Who Shall be Judge. Human Rights Quarterly. 25: 93-120.